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wanton

[won-tn] /ˈwɒn tn/
adjective
1.
done, shown, used, etc., maliciously or unjustifiably:
a wanton attack; wanton cruelty.
2.
deliberate and without motive or provocation; uncalled-for; headstrong; willful:
Why jeopardize your career in such a wanton way?
3.
without regard for what is right, just, humane, etc.; careless; reckless:
a wanton attacker of religious convictions.
4.
sexually lawless or unrestrained; loose; lascivious; lewd:
wanton behavior.
5.
extravagantly or excessively luxurious, as a person, manner of living, or style.
6.
luxuriant, as vegetation.
7.
Archaic.
  1. sportive or frolicsome, as children or young animals.
  2. having free play:
    wanton breezes; a wanton brook.
noun
8.
a wanton or lascivious person, especially a woman.
verb (used without object)
9.
to behave in a wanton manner; become wanton.
verb (used with object)
10.
to squander, especially in pleasure (often followed by away):
to wanton away one's inheritance.
Origin of wanton
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English wantowen literally, undisciplined, ill-reared, Old English wan- not + togen past participle of tēon to discipline, rear, cognate with German ziehen, Latin dūcere to lead; akin to tow1
Related forms
wantonly, adverb
wantonness, noun
unwanton, adjective
Can be confused
wanton, won ton.
Synonyms
1. malicious. 2. calculated. 3. heedless, inconsiderate. 4. licentious, dissolute, immoral, libidinous, concupiscent, lustful. 5. lavish. 10. waste.
Antonyms
3. careful, considerate. 4, 5. restrained.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for wantonly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I have enemies enow, God knows, though I do not wantonly add to the number.

  • You had broken my heart, and I thought that you had done it wantonly.

    Bardelys the Magnificent Rafael Sabatini
  • That was their offense, and yet the town was wantonly destroyed.

  • I now was expected to try to grab the maids and kiss them wantonly.

    The O'Ruddy Stephen Crane
  • Watch that your pride does not chafe them—your power does not wantonly gall.

  • It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and he had wantonly thrown it away.

    Jerry Jean Webster
  • It was the opportunity of a lifetime and he had wantonly thrown it away.

    Jerry Junior Jean Webster
  • There are opportunities and temptations to which no decent person should be wantonly exposed.

    Oxford Andrew Lang
  • He got upon his feet and I saw that he was angry, believing that I had wantonly offended him.

    Princess Zara Ross Beeckman
British Dictionary definitions for wantonly

wanton

/ˈwɒntən/
adjective
1.
dissolute, licentious, or immoral
2.
without motive, provocation, or justification: wanton destruction
3.
maliciously and unnecessarily cruel or destructive
4.
unrestrained: wanton spending
5.
(archaic or poetic) playful or capricious
6.
(archaic) (of vegetation, etc) luxuriant or superabundant
noun
7.
a licentious person, esp a woman
8.
a playful or capricious person
verb
9.
(intransitive) to behave in a wanton manner
10.
(transitive) to squander or waste
Derived Forms
wantonly, adverb
wantonness, noun
Word Origin
C13 wantowen (in the obsolete sense: unmanageable, unruly): from wan- (prefix equivalent to un-1; related to Old English wanian to wane) + -towen, from Old English togen brought up, from tēon to bring up
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wantonly

wanton

n.

"one who is ill-behaved," especially (but not originally) "lascivious, lewd person," c.1400, from wanton (adj.).

wanton

v.

1580s, from wanton (n.). Related: Wantoned; wantoning.

wanton

adj.

c.1300, wan-towen, "resistant to control; willful," from Middle English privative prefix wan- "wanting, lacking" (from Old English wan "wanting;" see wane) + togen, past participle of teon "to train, discipline;" literally "to pull, draw," from Proto-Germanic *teuhan (cf. Old High German ziohan "to pull;" see tug). The basic notion perhaps is "ill-bred, poorly brought up;" cf. German ungezogen "ill-bred, rude, haughty," literally "unpulled."

As Flies to wanton Boyes are we to th' Gods, They kill vs for their sport. [Shakespeare, "Lear," 1605]
Especially of sexual indulgence from late 14c. The only English survival of a once-common Germanic negating prefix still active in Dutch (cf. wanbestuur "misgovernment," wanluid "discordant sound"), German (wahn-), etc. Related: Wantonly; wantonness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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